• D. Randall Faro

Contemplate This

Updated: May 7

Activities planned for the next 24 hours. Feed dog, make breakfast, read online news (1.5 hrs). Online banking and scheduling medical appointments (.5 hrs). Research for next novel (2 hrs). Take dog for run (1 hr). Yard work (2 hrs). Clean and fill bird feeders (.5 hrs). Visit elderly shut-in (2 hrs.) Nap (1.5 hrs). Take grandson fishing (1.5 hrs). Visit with daughter (1 hr). Wash both vehicles (1.5 hrs). Mini-hike with my wife (1.5 hrs). Grocery shopping (1 hr). Gym workout (2 hrs). Check and answer e-mails (.5 hrs). Church volunteer work (1 hr). Gab session with retired colleagues (2 hrs). Clean boat and tackle box (1 hr). Recreational reading (1.5 hrs). Lunch and dinner (1.5 hrs). Watch Mariners game (2.5 hrs). Write a chapter or two of pending novel (2 hrs). Night’s sleep (8 hrs). Total: 32 hours. And I’m retired.


Wait a minute! A day doesn’t have 32 hours. At least it didn’t use to. Something’s out of whack here.


In a recent piece in the Washington Post Allison Klein wrote: “We schedule activities back-to-back for fear of not accomplishing them all. The over-scheduling of (our) time (indicates) the value that we place on achievement over contentment. The focus on productivity is so widespread that people even strive to make leisure productive and brag about being busy. So we do more and enjoy less.”


The productivity concept hasn’t consciously registered in my mind, but the packed-life routine sometime occurs to me as overly-packed. The phrase one hears among a large percentage of retirees – “How did I ever have time to work?” – hits home now and then. Then I look at the seemingly-always-time-pressured lives of younger working people and wonder how they (or me, past tense) maintain sanity.


There are very few societies, past or present, where there is enough time to do everything needed or wanted. Even in we-think-idyllic, unburdened-by-the-modern-world situations, most waking hours are consumed with simply finding and fashioning the necessities of life. Sitting long hours on a beach or mountaintop contentedly contemplating life’s joys and mysteries is mostly a myth.


So my encouragement is this: program, build in, schedule, or plan times of just relaxing. Contemplating, even. If scheduling seems too, well, scheduled, then we need to simply order our lives so that we don’t feel overburdened, overworked, and fettered by one after another after another commitments. Time for reflection, contemplation, or just buzzing out is vital to mental health.


“But . . . but . . . but,” you might say. There are all these things I HAVE to do. Not so. The huge percentage of life is composed of choices. One just has to pick and choose to fashion a life that is personally well-balanced and satisfying. Easier said than done? To be sure . . . but it can be done.


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